Armstrong stands down after four losses in a row

WHILE the ups and downs of Borders rugby continue on the pitch this week, behind the scenes there are also some tumultuous goings-on, writes Fiona Scott.

Following a recent string of poor results Hawick’s Derek Armstrong stood down from his position at Mansfield Park.

At a meeting on Tuesday night Hawick RFC reluctantly agreed to accept Armstrong’s resignation which has been under discussion since Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Aberdeen Grammar – the fourth successive loss for the struggling Greens.

Armstrong told TheSouthern: “Both myself and the club felt there was something missing in the performance of the team and after talking it over with them everyone agreed that it was best if I stood down.

“I have had three and a half great years with Hawick and will continue to support them and other Borders clubs.”

Hawick RFC president Alister Pow said: “We would like to go on record to thank Derek for his contribution to coaching the club in the last couple of seasons.

“Coaching is now a pressure job, much more than it used to be, and we fully understand why Derek decided to step down.

“We wish him well in whatever he decides to do and thank him again for all his efforts at Mansfield Park.”

Following this decision, former Hawick, Scotland and British Lions centre Jim Renwick has agreed to step in as backs coach in the short term, while John ‘Rocky’ Johnstone will continue in his role as forwards coach.

The Greens will open discussions with interested parties about the coaching structure at the club for the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, over at the Greenyards club, president Mike Dalgetty has dismissed rumours that Melrose RFC would be parting company with coach Craig Chalmers as “absolute garbage.”

The touchline tattle was fuelled on Friday morning when a national newspaper reported on the marriage break-up of Chalmers and his wife of 18 years, Lucy.

But Dalgetty poured cold water over any suggestion that the club would be asking Chalmers to leave.

He told TheSouthern: “Craig’s personal circumstances are of absolutely no interest to the club. We need to focus on what’s happening on the field and that is what we are doing.”

That was underlined this week by the arrival of New Zealand centre/wing Nick McGrath.

The 24-year-old has been playing for the Southland Stags team in Invercargill where Southern rugby correspondent Stuart Cameron met up with him before he packed his bags and headed north.

He told us: “I got through the club season fine, but just before the Stags season got under way I tore a hamstring and it pretty much ruled me out, and the same thing happened last season, which was frustrating. So I thought I’d like to get away from here to freshen up and I signed up with a recruitment agency.

“The offer came through from Melrose and also one from a Northern Irish club.

“I was tossing up between the two, but I had a chat with Craig Chalmers and Mike Dalgetty sent me an email to clarify a lot of things for me, so I was keen to get on board.”

McGrath is likely to turn out for Melrose 2nds this weekend while the first string face a visit to Heriot’s. For full weekend rugby fixtures see the sporting week ahead below.